PLANTS OF COASTAL GEORGIA
Below are some of our coastal plants for you to see. This will help you to learn to identify them, with a few facts included. Hope you enjoy!
This is the Toothache Tree. The bark is easy to identify. It is considered a shrub or small tree growing 20-30 feet tall. It has a natural numbing sensation and well deserves it's prominent place in our American folklore. F.P. Porcher (1869) lists numerous medicinal uses of this tree. It was used to treat toothaches. The bark of this tree is easy to identify.
The Sandhill Thistle grows 8-24 inches tall. It has strong medicinal properties as a liver cleanser. Culpepper considered the Milk Thistle to be as efficient as Carduus benedictus for agues, and preventing and curing the infection of the plague, and also for removal of obstructions of the liver and spleen. He recommends the infusion of the fresh root and seeds, not only as good against jaundice, also for breaking and expelling stone and being good for dropsy when taken internally, but in addition, to be applied externally, with cloths, to the liver. With other writers, he recommends the young, tender plant (after removing the prickles) to be boiled and eaten in the spring as a blood cleanser.
The Common Wild Azalea is of the rhododendron family and grows up to 10 feet tall. One of our most famous flowers of the south. It blooms late May-July.
The Tulip Tree or Yellow Popular grows from 80-100 feet in the wild. With a long straight trunk. It is cut more than any other tree for lumber except for our pine trees. This picture of it's flower explains why we call it the Tulip Tree. Upon first opening the flower petals stand up. The seeds are an important food for our wildlife. The fruits provide food for squirrels in the late fall and winter months, and the white-tailed deer often browse on the twigs.
Do you see the snake skin in these Palmetto Palm branches? This snake choose these branches to help it shed it's old skin. Pretty cool!
The Cabbage Palmetto is easy to identify by the strings hanging from the palm leaves. The Seminole and other Native American peoples in the southeastern United States used cabbage palmetto for a wide variety of purposes. The white, crisp palm hearts were eaten either raw or cooked by boiling or steaming. The leaf buds are purported to taste like cabbage. However, both of these food uses--the heart and the buds--result in the death of the plant. The palm fruits, which ripen in the fall, are small and mostly seed, but they are sweet with a slight bitter aftertaste. The seeds and berries were used for headaches and to lower fevers.
The plants provided fiber and wood used to construct houses, make food paddles, drying frames for animal skins, potato drying mats, fish drags, fish poison, ball sticks, arrows and hunting dance staffs. Most Seminole homes were built from the cabbage palm. Logs would be used as poles for the framework of huts that were thatched with the fan-shaped leaves. Split logs were used for flooring. Immature fronds were bleached in the sun, cut into strips, and plaited to make long strips, which were used for lashing or sewn together to make baskets.
The fruits ripen in the late fall and are eaten by crows, mockingbirds, warblers, pleated and red-bellied woodpeckers and squirrels. Palmetto fruits provide 10% to 25% of the diet of raccoons and robins in the Southeast.
The Saw Palmetto is easy to identify by the sharp teeth all along both sides of it's stem. Historical use of saw palmetto can be traced in the Americas to the Mayans who used it as a tonic and to the Seminoles who took the berries as an expectorant and antiseptic.Native Americans have used the Saw Palmetto berry to treat genital, urinary tract, and reproductive system problems. Saw palmetto was listed in the United States Pharmacopeia from 1906 to 1917 and in the National Formulary from 1926 to 1950. Saw palmetto extract is a licensed product in several European countries.
The Chinaberry Trees purple blossoms are so fragrant that merely walking or driving by a tree is a very sweet fragrant experience. Grow up to 30 feet tall. The first tree was planted in Charleston, South Carolina in the middle 1800's and came from Asia. It was widely planted as a ornamental around home sites. It has spread rapidly throughout the south. The Chinaberry tree’s extracts are useful for natural pesticides. It is also used for medicinal purposes because it has anti-viral and possibly anti-cancer properties. It was used to expel worms from the body. Broken branches were placed in the house to keep out fleas. The Chinaberry wood is used for flooring.
The Cross Vine looks a lot like our Trumpet vine but flowers earlier in April-May and has a rustier color to it. Upon cutting the vine you will see a cross in it. It grows 30-40 feet long.
The Silky Camellia a shrub or small tree grows up to 20 feet tall and loves the shade. It flowers from May-June. It is of little value for our wildlife but is very beautiful to behold.
The Sweet Bay is so fragrant. It looks a lot like a magnolia, only it has a smaller flower and leaves. A small shrub or tree which can grow from 30-80 feet tall. It flowers from April-May. This one has yellowed a bit from being picked and touched. We couldn't quite smelling it because it was so sweet.
The Spider Lily flowers in May and grows beside waterways. Growing up to 2 feet tall. It is one of the most spectacular of the river marsh plants.
The Sparkle Berry a shrub or small tree from the holly family grows up to 30 feet tall and flowers April-May. The dark berries usually lasting thou winter are food for a wide variety of wildlife here. The berries can be made into jelly. It is a hard wood and is good for tool handles. Butterflys, bees and birds all love this plant. It is slow growing and drought tolerant. It has been used to treat dysentery and diarrhea.
The Dune Prickly Pear is in our local cactus family. It has spines 2-4 inches long and you sure do not want to step on one. It hurts! It flowers May-June. It grows up to 2 feet tall. It's juice can be used with other juices and used in baking breads and cakes. The pads can be cut up like green beans and cooked. It has been used medicinally for ulcers, tumors, diarrhea, asthma and much more. Very common to our coast line.
Bull Rushes were a food staple for the Native Americans. The green bull rush is edible and the root. The rhizomes (or roots) produce edible tubers. During the period of April through August the tips of bulrushes bloom with clumps of reddish brown or straw-colored flowers that turn into hard seed-like fruits. All of which grow in moist environments and can be used as a wild and nutritional addition to the human diet.
Elderberry below is edible. The flowers dipped into egg and milk and then flour and fried are a common dish in Europe. The berries are edible for pies and muffins. This plant has very high anti viral and anti bacterial properties. A syrup made from the berries is a great treatment for colds and flues. It can be purchased at your local health food stores.
The Muscadine grapes grow in abundance along our coast.
The Muscadine grape is a species of native North American vines first discovered by European explorers of the Southeastern United States. The earliest named variety was Scuppernong, discovered in 1554. Muscadines are well-adapted to the warm, humid conditions of the Southeast where other grape varieties do not prosper. Today "the grape of the South" has been cultivated into more than 24 distinct varieties grown in traditional vineyard style.
Muscadine Grapes and Health
Not only are Muscadine grapes celebrated for their unique pungent flavor, now they are also considered one of the most healthful foods in the world. Recent scientific analysis conducted independently by the University of Georgia, Mississippi State University, North Carolina State University, and The U.S. National Institute of Health, all concur that the Muscadine provides remarkable health benefits. Muscadines contain the highest levels of antioxidants and polyphenolic compounds such as resveratrol and ellagic acid of any fruit tested. Antioxidants protect the body from damage caused by free radicals and are considered to be effective in helping prevent abnormal cells, degenerative diseases, and to slow the aging process.
Reservertrol is an anticarcinogenic agent and proven to be effective in reducing cholesterol levels and the risk for coronary heart disease. Ellagic acid is known to inhibit the start and growth of cancer cells. The research found that muscadine wines contain up to 7 times more resveratrol than other wines. Fresh muscadines are also higher in fiber, zinc, iron, and calcium than most fruits. The search was on to find nature’s best source of antioxidants and the rare grape that is native only to the southeastern U.S., known as the muscadine, was the superlative.
The purple flowered Pickerel Plant was also a food staple for the Native Americans. The stems were cut like green beans and cooked. And the root is edible.
This plant is an excellent fish and waterfowl cover, as well as a food source. The large arrowhead-shaped leaves are dark green and glossy, with purple flowers growing on tall spikes. Mature height is 4'
The seed heads of this grass is a major food supply for the Purple Gallinule which immigrates here to our coastline every year to nest and have their babies. They have beautiful colors of purples, blues and turquoise with long golden yellow green legs.
Bull-tongue arrowhead, Sagittaria lancifoliaMember of the Alismataceae (Water-Plantain) family and is found in the following states: Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Texas and Virginia. Grows in marshes, canals, drainage ditches and pond margins. Blooms April through October in our region. According to Gil Nelson in East Gulf Coastal Plain Wildflowers , Native Americans used the edible tubers as substitutes for potatoes, resulting in the common name Duck Potato for several species.
The American Beauty bush is a all time favorite to view. And a great food staple for the birds.
This bearded iris is in abundance through out our wet lands and a native plant.
Not sure of this one. It grows on a vine. Will research and update soon! So pretty though.
This is our wild rose. Very fragrant!
One of our local native ferns.
The Marsh Rabbit is a common site at sunset and early mornings here. Babies are in abundance in June.
The Diamondback Terrapin is one of our local native turtles here. We also have Loggerhead, Leather backs and Green Sea Turtles that nest all along our coastline.
The Wood Stork is a common bird here. So beautiful to see flying with their black tipped wings.